I had memories to go with the new body. Nothing unusual in my former line of work, but this wasn’t a job, it was going to be my life. I switched the light back off, closed my eyes, and started finding out who I was.
Name: Virginia Vesta White; for fuck’s sake, he might as well have just called me Chastity Cherry McPure.
Occupation: child; no shit.
Base of operations: Aunt Sally’s house; well, at least I didn’t have parents to deal with.
Known associates: Sally Sanders, unrelated legal guardian. Oh, great, I’m “living under the name of Sanders”; the fun just never stops. Let me guess, she’s cheerful and blonde and perky and eager to get involved with molding and shaping my future womanhood. Heh, that part could actually be fun, in the nasty way Classic Me had dealt with the other girls.
Tech level couldn’t be too bad, since I’d already found a light switch. Indoor plumbing was likely, which was good, since I’d just discovered I had a bladder the size of a teacup and desperately needed to pee. I still had plenty of Virginia’s memories to unpack, but they’d be easier to face without the risk of wetting the bed.
My Whole New World was dark and fuzzy when I woke up for the first time. I fumbled around until my hands closed on a pair of glasses: big, chunky, thick-lensed things. Oh you are fucking kidding me.
Once I could focus, I saw that there wasn’t going to be any fucking for a long, long time. I was wearing flannel pajamas, the kind with built-in feet. I had a teddy bear. I had nothing going on from the neck down. I was a kid. A little kid. A sit-on-daddy’s-lap-without-making-him-squirm child.
I’d never been a child. My life started the day a Power pointed me at my first dick and showed me the ropes. Professionally, I mean; I learned about bondage on my own. I’d never been anything but an Inspirer Of Men, First Class (Succubus Division). Admittedly, I’d invented the title myself; we were just tools to them, and who names their screwdrivers? Muse was one of the things mortals called us, although they had some funny ideas about how we worked.
I found a light switch and a mirror, and started swearing. 68 inches of prime shaggy-maned redhead was just gone, and I didn’t even have my own face. I was short, skinny, and worst of all, cute. I had curly brown hair just past my shoulders, huge brown eyes, an upturned nose, and murder in my heart. I was six years old.
I was in Hell.
The Old Man gave me one last job, promising that when it was done, my Graduation would be nothing to fear. A new life, a fresh start, A Whole New World where I wasn’t stuck in a rut, pun intended. I’d still be me, but I’d be free; out of the game, on my own, no obligations to any Powers. I really, really should have gotten the details up front.
I did the job. I very thoroughly inspired an engineer to build a new kind of bridge that would connect two competing civilizations in a way that blah-blah-blah, seriously, who cares? Dull smart guy needed an ego boost and a major push, and nothing builds ego like banging a hottie who’s way out of his league. Pro tip: if you want to make absolutely sure you’re a guy’s type, give him a quick peek when he’s about 11, then come back and nail his 30-year-old-virgin ass to the floor. Never fails.
Like I said, I was made for this job, literally. Head to toe, inside and out, every curve, every gesture, every little freckle, everything went into making me an irresistible, inspiring temptation. I was looking forward to putting it all to good use, post-Graduation.
The son of a bitch gave me a new body.
He turned me down.
Fuck me, I can barely say it. In the three hours it took me to pull my new Hero out of that hidden world, he’d spent three years bonding with one of the other girls (Annoyingly Clever Little Sister Division). Worse, he’d also somehow gotten his hands on one of the experimental models, a severely fuckable cat-hybrid thingie the Powers had come up with a while back and dumped when she turned feral.
He chose them when he could have had me, and he’d even had me enough to make an informed decision. He hadn’t even popped them yet and still liked them better.
Even worse, he’d learned shit from them; he knew what we were, more or less, and he knew how to unmake us. I was in mid-taunt when he started Naming me, and I could feel it coming at me like a freight train. Names define you, limit you, change you, and he was really pissed off at me. Have I mentioned I’m a bitch? Yeah, keep that fact handy at all times, it’ll come up a lot.
Anyway, I was actually grateful when someone stopped him from turning me into a mouse, metaphorically speaking, until I looked over and saw a Power. One of the major players had tracked me down and caught me with my hand in the nookie jar.
I. Was. Fucked.
After three solid days of bump-and-grinding my way through the stasis spell, I had my Hero. To seal the deal, I fed him a story about saving the world from demons and then slid back along his lifeline. I could feel his recent death through our newly-forged connection, so I went back to the night before, fucked him silly to convince him he was the white knight to my dream girl, and then snuck back home to there to steal every bit of hero gear I could get my hands on.
I still don’t know how I missed. I’d never missed before. I could nail a fifty-year-old has-been in a truck-stop men’s room, jump to a sixteenth birthday he’d never forget, and be back in his limo to congratulate him on his amazing string of business successes before he had time to zip up. Sliding up and down a man’s lifeline was as easy for me as, well, you know.
Apparently I was off by three weeks. Even the most satisfied man can figure out that something’s wrong if you give him three weeks to think about it. Worse, when I slid back to our mutual present to pick him up, I couldn’t get through the door.
I was the best in the business, a tough, seasoned pro with hundreds of years of successful “inspirations” under my belt, so I did not hide in a corner and cry my heart out over the unfairness of a universe that kicked me to the curb, held out one last tasty-looking carrot, and then slammed the fucking door in my face.
I dried my eyes and got to work. I needed a Hero, and a mountee always got her man.
Okay, I admit it: I fucked the wrong guy. Do you hear me up there? I’m sorry I fucked your Hero, okay? Can I have my life back now?
I mean, it was my job to fuck Wrong Guys, wagging my amazing tail at them across years or decades of their lives until I turned them into Right Guys. I was designed to be a Grade-A Free-Range All-Natural Organic Fuck Bunny, and I had centuries of practice at turning boys into men and wrapping them around my little finger.
But when I came home from a tough job expecting praise and instead found replacements, I lost my shit and ran away to a hidden place I thought nobody else knew about.
Finding a good-looking naked guy playing Sleeping Beauty in my secret refuge felt like a birthday party, Christmas morning, and Easter Sunday all rolled up together. I knew a Hero when I saw one, and this one didn’t even need much breaking in. If I was going on the run to avoid finding out what happens when the Powers ditch you for a younger model, a Hero was exactly what I needed. So, yeah, I fucked him.
Unless you’re Anne Rice, you probably think Sleeping Beauties should be woken with a kiss. Not a chance. Stasis spells are a bitch, and this one was freshly cast by or at least for a major Power. I needed to wrap him around a lot more than my finger before I could wrap him around my finger.
(based on the feedback, I’ve touched up the first paragraph to anchor it better)
Where do you hide a world? In a room full of doors full of rooms full of… you get the idea. I was being sent back, but at least this time I’d been given a pair of pants. And a whole lot more. I resisted the urge to look in the backpack again; bigger on the inside gave me a headache.
“So there are people there now?”
The old man/god/whatever-he-was chuckled. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
“Elves, dwarves, goblins, dragons, Demon Lords?”
“That last one’s a bit comic-book for my tastes, but it could happen; you spent a few years looking for one, after all, thanks to her interference. Unfinished worlds are shaped by desire and expectation, which is why I’d left you in stasis. Mortal desire can change even finished worlds, though few ever try, and as the only one there, waking, sleeping, expecting, you shaped this one quite a bit.”
“Are we, then? Mortal, I mean, the three of us.”
“They weren’t, until you named them. They didn’t age because they weren’t finished yet, and you didn’t age because your world wasn’t; you were all missing pieces. It was your mutual desire for completion that reshaped the door to let them in and lock her out.”
“So you’re saying that deep down, I just wanted a loli and a catgirl?”
His eyes twinkled, and I mean that literally. “Is that really what you got?”
He finished making changes to the door, and it opened to reveal a familiar rock, with two even more familiar shapes curled up together on top of it, stirring softly.
“Go home, son, they’re waiting for you. You won’t need to wake them with a kiss, but I recommend it.”
There were still a lot of questions I wanted to ask, for Angel and Ariel as well as for me, but I knew he wouldn’t give me the answers, at least not today. A new one popped into my head as I stepped through the door, though.
“Hey, how did I end up on that rock in the first place?”
“You were run over by a truck.”
(second story, from her point of view…)
The cranky old martial-arts instructor who’d lived upstairs, who’d taught me more than I’d understood, strode in through the half-open door, swinging his cane like the prop I’d never known it was. “It’s not her name until you say it to her face; it will change her, and I can’t allow that, not yet. We need her just the way she is for a little while longer, warts and all.”
I’d expected that line to draw an angry remark from her, but a quick glance showed she was more stunned than I was. Apparently the game was four-dimensional Twister.
He misinterpreted my look. “Not physical warts, boy, character flaws. Ones that we’ve carefully nurtured for centuries.”
I didn’t know what he was, but I thought about all the pain and loneliness Angel and Ariel had gone through before I met them. He’d nurtured them, too.
My hands curled into fists. “And what were you nurturing me to be?”
“A hero, like your father before you.”
“My dad was a bank teller.”
“…who gave up his dreams to love a woman he knew would die young, and raised their child to be a protector, once he found something worth protecting. We do have something like valkyries, son, and they’re never wrong about heroes. I liked him, so I picked up where he left off.”
“Time for you to get back to it, I think. Don’t worry about this one; I’ve got one last job for her before Graduation, and I guarantee it will keep her out of your hair.”